The majority of Dorset’s older population were married or in a civil partnership in 2011; 62% (64,694) compared to the national average of 57%.
Between 2001 and 2011 the proportion of the population aged 65 and over who were widowed or single both declined, while married or divorced proportions both increased (below). These changes relate to increased life expectancy resulting in marriages surviving longer but also having more chance of ending in divorce. (Civil partnerships are not included in the 2001 Census while the categories: married, divorced and widowed in 2011 Census all include civil partnerships.)
The proportion of the older population living as a cohabiting couple has almost doubled since 2001 with a rise from 1.7% to 3.1% of the population. One possible reason for the rise in cohabitation was the increase in the population aged 65 and over who were divorced.
Of those aged 65 and over 29% were living in one person households in 2011.
The vast majority of over 65+ year olds still live at home but a small percentage live in communal establishments—with two out of three of these residents aged 85+. The 2011 Census records 96.9% of Dorset’s 65+ year olds were living in households, while the remainder (3.1% or 3,180) were residing in communal establishments. These figures reflect national trends and represent a slight increase since 2001 in the number of older people living in households (96.3% or 88,041).
Of those living in communal establishments 67% were aged 85 and over compared to 58% in England and Wales. Comparisons with 2001 show that the proportion of older people living in communal establishments who were aged 85 and over increased from 64% to 67%, however those aged 65‐84 decreased from 36 to 33%. This suggests that the age at which people move into communal establishments may have increased.
The adjacent graph presents the proportion of the population aged 65 and over living in communal establishments that are male and female and the age categories into which they fall. In 2011, almost three quarters of older residents were female (74.6% or 2,372). This is likely to relate to the longer life expectancy of females (82.6 years) compared to males (78.7 years). (Figures for life expectancy obtained from Office for National Statistics Interim Life tables 2009‐2011)
Of the 180,213 household reference persons (HRPs) in Dorset 37.5% (67,498) were aged 65 and over. This represents an increase of 2.2 percentage points between 2001 and 2011, during which national levels remained static at 26%. (The HRP is chosen based on their age and economic activity, and is the oldest full‐time worker in most households.) In 2011, the majority of households in Dorset with a HRP aged 65 and over were owner occupied
Over half (57% or 59,407) of all usual residents in Dorset aged 65 and over reported very good or good health, almost a third (32.1%) reported fair health while 10.8% reported that their general health was bad or very bad. However 46.2% of those aged 65 and over living in households reported having a long term health problem or disability which limited their daily activities. This is an increase of 2.5 percentage points on the 2001 figure. As might be expected, those aged 65 and over had higher levels of activity limitation than younger age groups.
Of those resident in communal establishments 16.8 % reported very good or good health, 52% reported fair health and 31.2% reported bad or very bad health. The difference in general health relates to the older age structure of the communal establishment population.
In 2011, 14.8% (14,993) of the household population aged 65 and over provided unpaid care; this includes 8.3% who provided 1‐19 hours unpaid care per week, 1.7% who provided 20‐49 hours unpaid care per week, and 4.9% who provided 50 hours of more unpaid care per week.
Comparisons with 2001 showed that there was a 2.5 percentage point increase in the proportion of older people providing unpaid care between 2001 and 2011. In 2001 12.3% of usual residents aged 65 and over provided unpaid care: 7.4% provided 1‐19 hours and 1.2% provided 20‐49 hours unpaid care. The largest percentage point increase was seen for those providing 50 hours or more unpaid care a week: an increase from 3.7% (3,261) in 2001 to 4.9% (4,900) in 2011. This increase in unpaid care provision by older people may relate to providing care for a spouse or elderly parent in the home as life expectancy continues to rise.
For more information please contact:Nicola Dench
Source: 2001 & 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics